Friday, 24 July 2015

Elite: Dangerous ain't like dustin' crops, boy!

Elite is one of the defining video gaming experiences of the 8-bit era. Rob Wainfur jumps into the cockpit of the sequel, Elite: Dangerous, and boldly makes the jump into hyperspace...

Guest post by Rob Wainfur

Way back in 1984, like many Star Wars fans I was craving more from that galaxy far, far away. Return Of The Jedi was a year old and little did I know this was the beginning of the dark ages in regards to Star Wars. I was never one for the expanded universe, instead getting my Star Wars fix from my Kenner figures. I would make up my own Star Wars story usually consisting of the Empire attempting to take control of a broken down Millennium Falcon situated in the middle of my bedroom. The Emperor would unleash his latest super weapon, Big Trak. This would be my Star Wars fix and had been for a number of years.

In 1984 I had my first computer, a Sinclair Spectrum 48K complete with those unique rubber keys. A whole universe of untapped gaming was in front of me and one game in particular literally had a universe to play in, Elite.

The game, written by David Braben and Ian Bell was a space trading game. An open ended game where you are first armed with a basic ship and just 100 credits to your name. The aim of the game is up to you. Get more money or become famous. Fight for a faction or show no mercy to any side. The game was your game and you could make any decision…from a certain point of view. The game had hundreds of planets normally with a space station in orbit. Here you could dock your ship, (easier said than done without a docking computer) trade and pick up missions.

What has this got to do with Star Wars I hear you say? Well I filled in the gaps. To me I was a scoundrel with my own ship just like Han Solo, trying to make a living, smuggling goods, shooting first and generally being a scruffy looking nerf herder. This game had given me exactly what I was craving. A universe where I could fly a space ship and do what I want. Being 12 years old at the time filling in the gaps and making it Star Wars related was easy. I even played my Star Wars album on my record player while playing the game. I’m smiling as I type this. I forgot about that little detail until now.

I thought the whole setup was just amazing. This little black box connected to my 14” portable TV, tuned into channel 8 (it was rumoured that this would give you the best picture) was giving me a whole universe to play as a Han Solo type character in my own bedroom. But with all this amazing technology around me, being the dreamer I was and still am, I wondered what these games would be like in the future. “If we can do this now imagine what we will be playing in 30 years time.”

Fast forward to the present and only this week my question from 30 years ago has been answered. I finally managed to get my hands on the new Elite game called Elite: Dangerous. As you would expect it boasts next gen graphics, a wonderful soundtrack performed by a full orchestra and instead of hundreds of planets there are millions of systems each containing numerous planets, anomalies and space stations. It really is mind boggling and for the first time in a very long time I am amazed at how big a video game is. Another big difference to its 1984 cousin is now you’re not playing on your own. Everyone else playing the game is sharing the same universe. If you see another ship in the game, chances are it’s another player. You want to dock at a space station? Get in line and wait for the space station to give you a slot. Other players will watch you as you dock and back seat drivers giving you advice as you get it wrong. Exactly what happened to me last night. Have you ever tried parking a car in a space while being watched? It’s twice as hard.

It’s become a known fact that video games over the years have become a lot easier to play and finish. All too often the game is willing to hold your hand and guide you through a particular difficult part. Thankfully, Elite: Dangerous is still as hard and even more daunting than its 80’s counterpart. The game once again gives you a basic ship and some credits and it’s up to you to go out there, choose a star, straight on till morning and see where it takes you. There are a few tutorials but to be honest a lot of the fun is finding out what each button does and achieving small tasks such as docking, flying and navigating are as rewarding as any mission I’ve done in a game. There is combat in the game but it’s not essential at first. I’m too scared at the moment to take on any combat missions. If you lose your ship you end up back at your home base and you get punished. Your new ship will cost you and you’ll probably end up owing money for the new ship at first. So the will for self-preservation is higher than any game I’ve played in a long time.

My first job involved coffee. Some workers had decided to strike due to a lack of coffee on board a space station. My job was to go out there and find some coffee and bring it back. In exchange I will get 9000 credits. Instantly I thought of Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager “There’s coffee in that nebula” or in my case the next system. I plotted a course, left the station and hyper jumped to the next system to grab that coffee. It sounds easy and to be honest it was but I had to plot a course, leave my current station, hyper jump, come out of hyperspace and dock twice. It was remembering all these procedures and putting them all together. I had a sense of achievement completing my very first mission and Janeway along with her disgruntled co-workers could smile again now being full of caffeine.

Elite: Dangerous is a game that will last and with so much to explore I will be playing it for many years. Not since Skyrim have I been able to say that. There are already updates and mods for the game including voice control. The game is compatible with the Oculus Rift too (A virtual reality headset). This makes me smile and once again I have to wonder what this kind of game will be like in another thirty years?

If you've ever fancied owning your own space ship, taking to the stars and making your own adventures with the possibility of adding your own Star Wars then Elite: Dangerous is for you. I'll see you out there amongst the stars...

Rob Wainfur
Facebook: Thebeardedtrio
Twitter: @thebeardedtrio

Have your own Star Wars story to share? Please get in contact.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Jurassic World sequel premieres June 2018

Universal Pictures has officially announced that a sequel to Jurassic World will hit the big screen on June 22, 2018.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard will reprise their roles as Owen Grady and Claire Dearing, respectively.

Director Colin Trevorrow is passing on directorial chores this time and will write the screenplay with writing partner Derek Connolly. “Jurassic Park is like Star Wars. Different directors can give a different taste to each movie,” Trevorrow said before the release of Jurassic World when asked if he would get behind the camera again for the next film. “I would be involved in some way, but not as director.” Steven Spielberg is executive producer.

Earlier this week Jurassic World passed Marvel's Avengers to become the third highest-grossing movie of all time, behind James Cameron's Avatar and Titanic. The movie is available for pre-order on Blu-ray disc.

The sequel could develop the Ingen weaponisation subplot in Jurassic World into Jurassic War. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Lone Gunmen revived in The X-Files

The Lone Gunmen, who starred in their own short-lived spin-off series in 2001 and appeared to meet their end in The X-Files ninth season, are back in Fox's much-anticipated mini-series reboot.

The news was broken by actor Dean Haglund on Twitter. The popular trio comprised of Frohike, Langly and Byers, played by Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund and Bruce Harwood respectively, will be joined by DC Universe star Robbie Amell (The Flash). Amell has been cast as Agent Miller.

The X-Files returns in January 2016.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Captain America: Civil War ties into Thor: Ragnarok

Actress Jaimie Alexander, best known for her role as Lady Sif in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, speaking to the LA Times, sheds a little light on Captain America: Civil War's tie-in to Thor: Ragnarok and her expanded role in the third Thor instalment.

"There’s a lot of great stuff they’ve peppered in through Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Avengers [and] Captain [America: Civil War] will have some stuff,” Alexander tells the newspaper’s Hero Complex blog. "There's just all kind of Easter eggs and hints, if you’re really paying attention. They’re so good at interweaving everything throughout those films.”

Alexander goes on to say,

"Marvel, I think on purpose, they don’t tell me certain things. Because they know I’ll be like, ‘So here's what's gonna happen.’ But I do know I will be in Thor 3 and that Sif will have a very pivotal part in that movie. I just can’t tell you what because I’ll get shot."

Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters November 3, 2017.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Hot Toys teases 1/6th scale Millennium Falcon

Whilst the interminable wait for Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues. Hot Toys has teased its upcoming 1/6th scale Millennium Falcon on Facebook.

If you could afford one, where would you store it? Let me know in the comments below

Friday, 10 July 2015

Doctor Who Series 9 teaser trailer premieres at SDCC

A teaser trailer for Doctor Who series 9 was unveiled at this year's San Diego Comic-Con and it's a doozy!

Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams is seen on screen for the first time and much speculation surrounds who she might be playing. My immediate thought was the Doctor's granddaughter Susan. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Doctor Who returns to television screens on 19th September.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

This is the app Star Wars fans are looking for...

All Star Wars, all the time, anywhere? There's an app for that.

The Star Wars app is your official mobile connection to a galaxy far, far away. With a dynamic interface, the Star Wars app immerses you in breaking news, rich media, social updates, special events, and interactive features.

The new app is available for Android and iOS devices. Download now.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

LEGO Movie directors helm Han Solo Star Wars spin-off

Star Wars spin-offs are gaining momentum with the announcement that Han Solo will be getting his own origin story in the wake of director Josh Trank's departure from the upcoming Boba Fett movie, which remains in development at Disney.

The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street franchise directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord will tell the story of how Han Solo became everyone's favourite space smuggler. This isn't the first time the directors have steered the Millennium Falcon and her beloved crew. Remember the cool cameo in The LEGO Movie?

Here's the official blurb from

"The next adventure in the Anthology series of Star Wars films will be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, whose credits include the critically acclaimed The LEGO Movie and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, as well as 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street. Among the most sought-after filmmakers working today, the two have proven a formidable duo on the multiple films they've collaborated on and are looking forward to applying their unique creative chemistry to the Star Wars universe."

Slated for a May 25, 2018 release, the film will be executive produced by Lawrence Kasdan and Jason McGatlin and co-produced by Will Allegra.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Doctor Who at SDCC

Here's the full timey-wimey schedule for Whovians lucky enough to be attending this year's San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC).

Thursday, July 9:

9:00am pst, Limited Signing Drawing for Doctor Who
We're excited to announce that there will be an autograph signing with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Michelle Gomez. For details on how to participate in the signing, check out Comic-Con’s official website.
2:15pm pst, the Doctor Who Hall H Panel
Join Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Steven Moffat, and Michelle Gomez in Hall H for a panel that will talk about ALL OF THE THINGS.

Saturday, July 11:

10:30am pst, NerdHQ Panel featuring Jenna Coleman, Steven Moffat, and Michelle Gomez
Join Jenna, Steven, and Peter at the New Children’s Museum for a lively and nerdy chat moderated by host Zachary Levi.
2:30pm pst, Doctor Who Fan Meetup
Come join us for our Doctor Who Fan Meetup at the House of Blues, featuring snacks, musical jams, and surprise guests!
3:30pm pst, Titans Comics Doctor Who Panel: Doctor Who Comics Panel: Year Two, Cross-Over Event And New Mini-Series (room 5AB)
Our friends at Titan Comics will be hosting a panel all about their new mini-series entitled “Doctor Who Comics Panel: Year Two, Cross-Over Event And New Mini-Series”. It’s sure to be a blast!
7:30pm pst, Nerdist Podcast Live featuring Peter Capaldi
Join Nerdist Podcast and Panel Moderator Chris Hardwick as he talks to Peter Capaldi about all things DW and nerdy.

If you're attending SDCC and would like to write a future feature, please get in contact.

Follow Doctor Who on Tumblr for further information.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens special look at SDCC

Marvel Studios is taking a timeout from San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) this year. However, Disney has big plans for its franchise set in a galaxy far, far away...

This Friday fans are promised a special look at The Force Awakens during the Star Wars panel from 5:30PM in Hall H.

"Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy, director J.J. Abrams, writer Lawrence Kasdan, and special guests provide a special look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Hopefully any new trailer reveal will be shown online soon thereafter.

Are you excited for Star Wars at SDCC? Let me know in the comments below.